#LoveAndLight: ABH wins battle against Mellanby Hall


The Asido Campus Network is the student- led, youth arm of the broader Asido Foundation, popularly known for their continued contributions to increasing the awareness about mental health across Nigerian campuses. In furtherance of their efforts towards increasing the awareness of suicide and suicide prevention among students, the Asido Campus Network held its first inter- hall oratory contest, themed “Matters that Matter: Sincerely Speaking Suicide”. According to Mr. Williams Owoeye, a member of the planning committee for the event, the oratory contest was conceived two years ago by Oluwatimilehin Ogunfolaji, the then Director of Programmes of the foundation and is the first of its kind in South West, Nigeria. In his words, the oratory contest is a form of “informed oratory” targeted at the student populace with the main aim of extending the number of conversations concerning matters relating to suicide but done in a relaxed setting.

The preliminary stage of the oratory contest which held last Saturday at the Social Science Lecture Theatre, University of Ibadan had a total of seven Halls of residence in attendance, with only five places in the finals. Alexander Brown Hall was paired against Kenneth Mellanby Hall. Both halls had five minutes to deliver a scintillating speech on the topic “#LoveAndLight: A Culture of Performative Anti- Sucide Advocacy in our Digitalized World”. With an impeccable jury to impress and a swarming crowd consisting majorly of students to swoon over, going up that stage on that day must have been a daunting task. Alexander Brown Hall however came out on top when the judges collated the points.

ABH press spoke with Miss Folashade Olajuwon, a member of the ABH Literary and Debating Society and honoured speaker at the oratory contest to share her experience:

Can we meet you and tell us a bit about how you joined the ABH Literary and Debating Society?

Hello, I am Folashade Olajuwon, many people call me Mofiolashade now, but I want people to know that that isn’t my real name but my pen name. Concerning how I joined the ABH Literary and Debating Society, I have just one person to thank, Dr. Titus Adeolu who encouraged me to pick up the admission form after the outcomes of some oratory competitions I had attended in the past weighed me down. With that, somehow, I felt encouraged to keep on fighting.

What inspired your speech and how did you prepare for it?

While one will have to first have and write a draft before submitting to the Society, the speech hadn’t been a personal effort but a combination of everyone’s contribution from the Society; I can’t take credit for it. In preparing for the speech, everyone went all out for it, from as little as a line to sentences, the speech had been a superb delicacy cooked up by ABH LnD Society.

 How was the experience being at the competition and describe to us the ‘winning’ moment?

Okay, this was my first time being on an outside event for the Society and I had this big responsibility in my mind to deliver. Asides that, there were many peculiarities surrounding this speech and it was all so overwhelming but at the competition, I kept mulling the speech over and over in my head trying to remember the several corrections that I had been given by my President and others too. When I went to the stage, I told myself, “This is it, you just have to give your all here, because if you don’t do it as beautifully as you have practiced, no one will know how much practice you’ve done.” So on the stage, I enjoyed myself like my President will often advise me and it was really nice because it seemed everyone liked the speech. When I was back, after hearing my opponent give their speech, I knew it was going to be a tight competition because it seemed both teams were ready for war. At a point I had given up hope of us winning. But then I saw a beautiful miracle happen, we won! That was really nice to see.

Please can you share your secrets with us, how did you win this round?

There are no new secrets in this life! I think it’s general knowledge that if you want something you will have to keep trying for it. Surprisingly, up to the morning of the event I still hadn’t mastered the speech to perfection, I had wanted to use prompts so I would be able to finish the speech. But like I mentioned earlier, I really wanted this and so I kept up with practicing the speech over and over and my throat still hurts from the experience. The bottom line is, the secrets to winning still remains trying again, showing up and keep working on yourself to achieve whatever it is you wish to achieve. I am grateful that all efforts came out nicely and it was worth it after all.

How do you feel now and how would you describe your confidence going into the next round?

I feel good! After the speech when my colleagues were telling me I did good, I was quite sceptical because your people will try to cheer you up no matter what, but when the judges gave their comments and they had nice things to say, I felt really confident that I would be willing to go for another outing. So yes, onto the next round we go! Although I may not be the one speaking at the next outing, it will be the Society’s decision to decide who will be representing the Hall.

What will be your next step going forward in the competition?

To help craft the speech, to make sure that delivery and rehearsals start as early as possible so when we get on that stage, we are fully prepared. We will keep tweaking the speech until we are sure it is ‘fire’ and I hope it works out. It is our hope to bring the prize home.

Who would you like to thank?

I would like to thank Amarachi, the President of the Society and Precious Idiaye. These two persons stood by me, they saw me cry and breakdown at some points. They had been extremely supportive all through it, even when I was ready to give up, they kept up their belief in me. I would also like to thank everyone who helped craft the speech, I am so grateful for their time and also their faith in me.

Similarly, in an exclusive interview with the current President of the ABH Literary and Debating Society, Miss Amarachi Igwe, she also attested to that fact the speech had been the result of collective efforts by members of the Society and although they had little time to prepare, the great amount of team work and perseverance of the speaker, Folashade had helped tremendously. According to her, it had been a close call on Saturday but going forward, efforts will be made to start preparations earlier than the former.

Asides the oratory contest, the final event promises to have lots of side attractions such as a stage play, musical renditions and others, all geared towards propagating the theme of programme.

 On the 30th of September, five Halls of Residence will be gunning for the first position. It will surely be a battle of the fittest at the grand finale of the Asido inter- hall oratory contest, but in her exact words, the President of the ABH LnD Society, Miss Amarachi Igwe says, “Going forward, the next step is to win!”

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